Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2,000 Volleyballers Rush to the Net Here

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2,000 Volleyballers Rush to the Net Here

Article excerpt

Bump, set, spike. Bump, set, spike. Bump, set, spike.

That will be a familiar pattern for the next four days as more than 2,000 boys and girls will compete in the Kaepa AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships.

Of the 219 teams, 133 come from beyond an hour's drive of St. Louis.

St. Louisan Kristin Folkl, an All-American on Stanford's reigning NCAA champions, will preside over opening ceremonies at 7 tonight at Forest Park Community College.

Local fans can then follow the bouncing balls in preliminary action from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The final rounds will be 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

While the Forest Park gym is the tournament hub, it is only one of 22 sites in St. Louis city and county. Local organizers had hoped to find a central location. But time pressures and outside controversy worked against that.

Tournament director Tom Gotsch said the event had been held for its first dozen years in Chicago.

"The AAU people were looking for some changes," said Gotsch, a longtime fixture with the St. Charles Volleyball Club. "They asked if St. Louis would be interested. And St. Louis' proposal was very attractive - a Midwest town with a community that could support it."

Local officials did not have enough lead time to clear dates at sites such as Washington U. and St. Louis U.

"Usually, these things are awarded a couple of years in advance," said Mike Dyer, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission. "We were just talking about this event a few months ago for this summer."

A plan to hold the entire tourney at the Cervantes Convention Center had to be scrapped when Chicago officials opted to hold a tournament on the same date.

The new Chicago event was sanctioned by the U.S. Volleyball Association (USVBA), a rival of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Half of the teams competing in the AAU tourney in Chicago opted to stick with the new USVBA event there.

"The original plans were to be at the convention center," Dyer said. "They were willing to give it a break on rent, since it's a non-profit youth event. …

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